The Difference Between a Good Defense and a Great Defense

Steven ResnickSenior Writer INovember 2, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 01:  Pierre Garcon #85 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 1, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 18-14.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers had a good defense against the Indianapolis Colts. In the game against the Colts, the 49ers did a good job of getting pressure on Peyton Manning and frustrating him.

Yet, there's going to be one play that stands out in the mind for 49ers fans that you could arguably say would have helped the 49ers maybe defeat the Colts—the dropped interception by Dre Bly.

If Bly makes that interception he would have had an easy chance of taking the ball back for a touchdown or even if he was tackled immediately the 49ers would have had excellent field position because even if the 49ers went three-and-out they would have been in field goal range.

On another player, which I believe that Ed Hochuli got wrong, even after the play was reviewed and overturned—Dallas Clark fumbled the football.

If you didn't see the play, Clark caught a pass from Manning and fell to the turf on his own, and was basically was already on his knees but tried moving forward while on his knees to get some more yardage, as he was doing that a 49er defender hit the ball out of his arms.

The ruling on the field was that Clark's knee was already down when the fumble occurred. Yet, Hochuli ignored the fact that Clark fell on his own and was moving forward trying to gain a little extra when a 49ers player before touching Clark hit the ball out of his arms, therefore Clark was never down by contact. 

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Orginally the play was ruled a fumble and it was the correct call with the 49ers recovering it. Like the missed Bly interception it would have given the 49ers great field position as well.

Against the run, the 49ers defensively were excellent, holding Joseph Addai to 62 yards on 20 carries which went for an average of 3.1 yards per carry.

Since the Colts weren't really able to get the running game going Manning was forced to throw often, going 31 of 48. However, Manning did not throw a touchdown in the game. The only touchdown through the air was from Addai who found a wide-open Reggie Wayne on a trick play.

Manning had 347 yards passing, but he was sacked three times. For his career, Manning has only been sacked once every 30 pass attempts, in this game it was once per every 16 attempts, which is great news for the 49ers because the team hasn't really been known for getting after the quarterback.

There were some really nice plays on defense with the 49ers able to break up passes, but there were times when the secondary played way too soft. I think the perfect example of that is when the Colts had a 3rd and 20 and the Colts at their own 16-yard line, which would have given the 49ers a chance to get pretty good field position.  

Instead Manning was able to find a wide-open Pierre Garcon for a 32-yard gain. With the help of that play the Colts were able to sustain a drive and end up kicking a field goal.

Also, another situation where the 49ers had the Colts deep in their own territory this time at the 13 yard line, the 49ers allowed for a 40 yard reception. Luckily this time though the Colts were not able to score any points.

I saw an interesting graphic on the Fox telecast that showed the Colts scores at half time and in the last four games the Colts had 21 points at half time in each of those games.

So, it was definitely an impressive showing for the defense of the 49ers against the high powered offense of the Colts. Considering the Colts as a team averaged 30 points per game coming into the game against the 49ers.

But, as I mentioned those little breakdowns are what seperate the great defenses from the good ones. The great ones make the interception that Bly dropped, they get the fumble recover, they don't bite on the trick plays, and don't give up big plays when their opposition is inside their own 20.